Editors’ Introduction: Geographies of Contemporary Cuba
Cynthia Pope and John C. Finn
This special issue of Human Geography was prompted by a sea change in U.S.-Cuba relations beginning in December 2014 when U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced that representatives from the two countries had been meeting in secret to discuss renewing diplomatic relations between the countries. Since then, the U.S. and Cuba have come a significant distance toward normalizing this fraught relationship, including reestablishing formal diplomatic relations, reopening embassies, and significantly loosening travel restrictions on U.S. citizens to Cuba. While the popular imagery of Cuba in the U.S. may tend to reduce the island and its inhabitants to caricature, most journalistic (and even some academic) treatment of Cuba tends to frame the country through one of two ideologically-driven narratives. Cuba, it seems, is either a tropical utopia or a communist dystopia. To us, both of these positions are too ideologically rigid and politically over-determined to be analytically useful. This special issue, then, is our effort to use newly shifting U.S.-Cuba relations as context in which to engage in a more nuanced and complicated analysis of the geography of Cuba. Specifically, we aim to use a spatial lens to highlight different ways of analyzing a dynamic society across multiple geographical scales and historical periods. In doing so, we have made a specific effort to recruit and include diverse styles of expression from differing political viewpoints, methodologies, and experiences with and in the country.